Vietnamese ship held in Philippines over alledged rice smuggling lacks import license

By Le Tan - Anh Vu, Thanh Nien News

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The MV An Bien 89-ALCI. Photo credit: Marinetraffic.com

The owner of a Vietnamese ship, which was seized in the Philippines with 2,900 tons of suspected smuggled rice, has admitted the vessel was not licensed to import rice into the country. 
On Monday (February 23), the Philippine military forces held the ship named MV An Bien 89-ALCI with 116,000 sacks of rice in waters off Pata Island in Sulu, according to media reports. 
The ship was carrying 16 Vietnamese crew members, including its captain Nguyen Van Loi. Each sack of rice weighed 25 kilograms, the reports said. 
Thanh Nien has found that the ship belongs to Agribank Financial Leasing Company No. 1 (ALCI), a subsidiary of the state-owned Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank). 
On April 1, 2014, it was leased to a Hai Phong City-based transport company named TTC Hai Phong. 
Nguyen Hong Long, ALCI’s general director, said the ship was not licensed to import rice into the Philippines, although it has been allowed to provide maritime transport services. 
Do Ngoc Binh, director of TTC Hai Phong, told Thanh Nien the ship was transporting rice from Vietnam’s An Giang Province to the Philippines under a contract with a partner.
He refused to reveal the name of the partner. 
Binh said his company has all legal papers regarding the transport of the rice, and the owner of the batch will be responsible for explaining the legitimacy of the rice.

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